Thursday, June 15, 2017

6/15 Carbon tax, ship cleaning, suing BNSF, DAPL do-over, BC pipes, Cherry Pt study, tanker fumes, UP rail, Maine monument

Brittle star (Dave Cowles, Walla Walla University)
Brittle star Ophiopholis aculeata
Ophiopholis aculeata
is like Pisaster ochraceus (Ocher star), an echinoderm that exhibits extremely varied hues and patterns for no apparent reason. The variations of the arms, moreover, are independent of the design of the central disc. No two Ophiopholis aculeata have been found to be exactly alike. (The Intertidal Wilderness)

American white pelicans
Regarding yesterday's posting about American white pelicans coming north (Squadron of American white pelicans spotted across Vancouver Island), Heather from Burley Lagoon WA writes: "Maybe the pelicans ARE establishing a new migration route.  Nine of those beauties flew in to Pierce County's Burley Lagoon, stayed over a  week, then were tracked  farther southwest in South Puget Sound. While here, the pelicans feasted on forage fish, took long and daily naps in a group and slept on private beaches at night.  We have seen the occasional gray pelican, but never whites. It was a thrilling sight for all!"

Nature Conservancy weighs potential carbon tax measure in Washington
Saying there’s a huge opportunity to move forward on climate change, The Nature Conservancy is weighing a potential carbon-tax ballot measure to put before voters as early as next year. The Seattle-based conservation group on Monday filed three proposed initiatives to the people with the Secretary of State’s Office as it prepares the groundwork for a possible 2018 ballot measure. Mo McBroom, the group’s government relations director, said the group is in the early stages of research and planning. They’ll decide later this year or next year how to move forward with the boldest plan possible “at the soonest possible date,” she said Tuesday. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

Tribe, groups to sue Navy over ship cleaning in Puget Sound
The Suquamish Tribe and two environmental groups have sued the U.S. Navy, alleging the Navy cleaned a decommissioned aircraft carrier in Puget Sound in violation of federal clean-water laws. The mothballed 60,000-ton USS Independence was cleaned in waters near Bremerton, Washington, in January and February before it was towed to Brownsville, Texas, this month to be dismantled. The tribe, Washington Environmental Council and Puget Soundkeeper Alliance say the Navy scraped the ship's hull and sent toxic copper-based paint, zinc and other pollutants into the water. They say Navy should have obtained permits under the Clean Water Act authorizing such discharges. (Associated Press)

Swinomish welcomes ruling in BNSF lawsuit
The Swinomish Tribe can move forward with a lawsuit against BNSF Railway over how it runs trains over the reservation. A U.S. District Court ruled June 8 that the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community’s lawsuit to enforce the tribe’s right-of-way easement agreement with BNSF can proceed despite the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act. The tribe sued BNSF in April 2015 for violating the terms of an easement agreement allowing trains to cross its reservation in Skagit County. In January, the court ruled there was no dispute that BNSF breached the easement when “BNSF neither apprised the tribe of its cargo nor obtained the tribe’s written agreement to an increase in the number of trains and the number of cars in those trains.” (GoAnacortes.Com)

Federal judge rejects Dakota Access Pipeline permits, calls for do-over 
In a dramatic turnaround, a federal judge has ruled that permits to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline must be reconsidered, and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has demanded the flow of oil through the pipeline be stopped. Completion of the controversial pipeline was stopped by the Obama Administration last December, with a call for an environmental-impact statement to assess risks…. President Trump called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue the permits, which it did shortly after he took office. Completion of the pipeline swiftly followed, as contractors drilled under a lake formed by a dam on the Missouri River, to hook up the two ends of the pipeline. The flow of oil began June 1. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

B.C. hereditary tribal leader aims to fight Pacific NorthWest LNG project 
A Federal Court case has cast the spotlight on a hereditary tribal leader’s battle against a liquefied natural gas project in northern British Columbia. Donnie Wesley argues that he has the rightful claim to be recognized as hereditary head chief of the Gitwilgyoots tribe – one of nine allied tribes of the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation. Mr. Wesley, a vocal critic of Pacific NorthWest LNG, is asking Federal Court to clear the way for a judicial review into whether Ottawa acted properly last year in approving the proposal to build an $11.4-billion liquefaction terminal on Lelu Island in the Port of Prince Rupert. Brent Jang reports. (Globe and Mail)

Kinder Morgan may still offer pipeline ownership to Indigenous groups
The chief executive of Kinder Morgan Canada said Wednesday he tried behind the scenes to allow Indigenous groups in British Columbia to have an ownership stake in a new multi-billion-dollar oil export pipeline, but such a deal never came together. Ian Anderson was discussing the company's proposed Trans Mountain expansion project, which would transport oil and other products from Edmonton to Vancouver. Construction is slated to begin in September, although some Indigenous and political leaders want to delay the project. Kyle Bakx reports. (CBC)

What’s up with Whatcom Council’s $150K study of fossil fuel exports from Cherry Point?
A controversial $150,000 study into what Whatcom County can and can’t do when it comes to fossil fuel exports moving through the community will begin once an outside law firm has been hired for the project…. A list of possible firms has been narrowed to Cascadia Law Group, environmental attorneys with offices in Seattle and Olympia, although a contract hasn’t been signed. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Burping Tankers Spread Sulfurous Fumes
The smelly cloud of sulfurous fumes that wafted over Bellingham Saturday evening, June 3, was apparently not that unusual an occurrence. It happened due to an overpressure on the Italian oil tanker Mare Siculum, which was then anchored east of Vendovi Island, awaiting unloading at the BP Refinery at Cherry Point, northwest of the city. Standard procedure under these conditions is to vent the built-up gases and relieve excess pressure on the tanker holds, according to US Coast Guard Lieutenant Krysta Zangle of its Foreign Vessel Branch in Seattle. “The smell of the fumes is indicative of cargo vapors being released as a result of pressure build-up within the cargo tanks,” she explained in a email. “This is a normal occurrence that ensures the safety of the tanker and our waterways.” Michael Riordan reports. (NW Citizen)

Board Affirms Oregon County's Denial Of Railroad Expansion
An Oregon county had substantial evidence when it denied Union Pacific Railroad’s proposed track expansion along the Columbia River where an oil train derailed last year, a board ruled Tuesday. The Columbia River Gorge Commission upheld the findings by Wasco County commissioners who cited concerns about the project’s impacts on the treaty rights of Native American tribes in rejecting the railroad’s application last November. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

US Interior chief 'comfortable' keeping Maine land public
U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke praised the beauty of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument on Wednesday and said he's "comfortable" with the National Park Service property remaining in public hands. With flies buzzing and Mount Katahdin as a backdrop, Zinke sounded optimistic about the future of special land designation granted by President Barack Obama last summer with a goal of giving an economic jolt to the region. Patrick Whittle reports. (Associated Press)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  249 AM PDT Thu Jun 15 2017  
 E wind rising to 15 to 25 kt this morning becoming SE  this afternoon. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 7 ft at 9 seconds.  Rain.
 S wind 10 to 20 kt becoming SW 5 to 15 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 8 ft at 9 seconds.  Showers in the evening then showers likely after midnight.

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